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Borland JBuilder 2007: The Good, the Bad, and the New Features

  • By Vlad Kofman
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However, because this is the first version of JBuilder build on top of Eclipse SDK, there are many deficiencies that still need to be polished out by CodeGear before this IDE can rise to the top of Eclipse-based offerings. The most noticeable shortcoming is the speed. The new JBuilder IDE starts a lot slower and is very sluggish compared with its predecessors (and even Eclipse SDK). It seems that the hardware requirements are also higher to run this product smoothly.

On the enterprise development side, previous JBuilder versions had very tight integration with BEA WebLogic products (similarly as IBM RAD or WSAD products have tight integration with IBM WebSphere), and starting, stopping, and deploying the web application to WebLogic were rudimentary tasks. The new offering tried to accommodate all major enterprise application servers, including WebLogic, WebSphere, JBoss, and Tomcat. But, by doing so, tasks such as deploying apps from JBuilder have fewer features and are not as easy as before. For example, the option to deploy as an exploded achieve for WebLogic is gone, as are specific WebLogic deployment instructions.

The option to develop web services using WebLogic Web services toolkit is also gone and only the Axis toolkit remains.

One of the reviews of JBuilder 2005 mentioned an old joke in which a man is seen coming from a conservation area with a hefty catch of fish. After noticing the proficiency of the fisherman when others had come back empty-handed, a park ranger decides to tag along with him. When they get to a specific location, the fisherman lights a stick of dynamite and throws it in the water, retrieving a huge quantity of fish. While the ranger begins to explain the illegal nature of the fisherman's actions, the man lights another stick, hands it to the ranger, and says, "Do you want to talk? ... or do you want to fish?"

The previous versions of JBuilder seem to ask a similar question, "Do you want to play with your IDE? ... or do you want to code?" And unfortunately, JBuilder 2007 now also focused more on the play side of the development environment.

The current standalone Eclipse SDK does not offer many support features that enterprise developers are used to, such as integration with application servers or UML modeling. However, all of these (and many more) features are available as plug-ins for Eclipse from the open source community or commercial vendors.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 3: Eclipse SDK 3.x

For example, the free Eclipse Web Tools Platform (WTP) Project includes source and graphical editors, wizards, and built-in applications to simplify development, and deployment to all major application servers. Currently, WTP also performs much faster than JBuilder 2007 and has comparable features, but if JBuilder 2007 is refined it has the potential to offer much more to the enterprise developers.

The Future of JBuilder

Based on CodeGear's press release, the JBuilder roadmap includes improvements to RAD web development. It also promises a "better way to develop, assemble, orchestrate, and deploy SOA applications through a single tooling environment," as well as better support for new versions of other Open Source community offerings such as Spring, Hibernate, and Shale.

New standards and Java frameworks also areexpected to be supported, and tighter integration with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) products from Borland and others are likely.


In this article, I have looked at the new version of JBuilder 2007. I have described what is new and old in the product and compared it with the other IDEs such as Eclipse. As I mentioned, the most profound change is that now JBuilder 2007 is built on the open source Eclipse platform. Overall, this is a huge change from the previous tool, and being the first release on the new platform, it does not seem like a completely polished product. It has many shortcomings that need to be fixed before it will truly compete with other enterprise IDEs (including JBuilder 2006) currently on the market. However, if you are used to Eclipse SDK, now may be the time to give JBuilder a fresh look.


About the Author

Vlad Kofman works on enterprise-scale projects for the major Wall Street firms. He has also worked on defense contracts for the U.S. government. His main interests are object-oriented programming methodologies, UI, and design patterns.

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This article was originally published on January 31, 2008

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